Hen houses are the new she dens when it comes to the backyard farmer.
A quick scroll on Pinterest will show you an unending stream of plans, ideas, and over the top dramatics when it comes to the best for your flock.
I’m serious, I’ve seen chandeliers in chicken coops, artwork on the walls and all the fixings hardly afforded by the average person.
It can be a bit much, if I’m being honest.
But what is enough?
Choosing a Chicken Coop
Before you dive into the details and the nitty gritty of the coop world, it’s important to decide on a few things.
First things first, how many chickens do you intend to raise?
Multiply that by at least two because, chicken math.
Next, are you a handy person and do you have time to construct something that is suitable and safe for your flock?
My own experience
**A humble admission here, when my husband and I first started our flock we agreed on ten birds. We converted a small shed into a coop and we had every intention of siding the shed and adding neat nesting boxes with little curtains, a pull out floor to make cleaning easy and even a brooder area for if we should find ourselves with chicks one day.
Well, we quickly found out that chicken math is a real thing and we now have 26 chickens, two turkeys, and converted a larger shed into our coop and it’s currently sided 3/4 of the way around. And the pull out floor for easy cleaning, the curtains on the nesting boxes, neither are included and likely never will be.
I fell prey to the Pinterest rabbit hole of spectacular and wildly impractical coops and have landed on something that works well enough for our flock and isn’t an eye-sore.**
Chicken Coop: Size Matters
When I say consider the number of birds you intend to have and multiply that by two I am coming from a place of pure honesty.
Not only is it my experience that chicken math is a real thing, but it is the experience of about 99.9% of backyard chicken tenders everywhere.
The remaining 0.1% of people who can decide on a flock size and stick with it either have the will power of the saints or they are lying.
And, honestly, I am opting for lying at this point because I have yet to meet a person content with the preliminary flock size they decided on when they started out.
Never the less, when considering the size of your coop, the general rule of thumb is to have 3-4 square feet available per bird, for a standard 5-6 pound hen.
For bantam hens, the square footage can be halved, while larger breeds (like Jersey Giants and Brahmas) will require almost twice as much space.
You will also want to ensure approximately 1 linear foot of roosting space to allow for all of your hens to completely ignore 3/4 of the roost and huddle in the top corner of the coop overnight.
Chicken Coop: DIY or Prefabricated
Back to my admission that, at the start of my chicken journey, I certainly had high hopes of what we would accomplish with our DIY coop … know your audience, know yourself.
Once you know approximately how large of a coop you need you should do some introspective review.
Are you a handy person and can you get the job done.
My husband and I are handy people, we also happen to have five young children and I am *admittedly* the person who puts the cart before the horse and comes home with a flock of chickens and nowhere to house them.
If you are handy and you have the time and resources to build a coop (or repurpose a shed), then, for all intents and purposes, go for it!
DIYing is a great way to save some money and create a custom coop that works for your flock and backyard.
If, however, you find yourself less than keen on construction and you want to avoid the splinters and half dozen trips to Home Depot, then a prefabricated coop might be the perfect solution for you.
There is no judgement.
These are your chickens, it’s in your backyard, and you can do what you want to do!
Pros and Cons of a Prefabricated Chicken Coop
While it’s pretty easy to understand the pros and cons of a DIY coop, the pros and cons of a prefabricated coop may not be so obvious.
Many people get caught up in the initial outlay of the coop without fully considering all the costs that go into making your own.
Have you ever seen the meme, “Why buy it at Target for $12 when I can make it myself for $92 in craft supplies!”
That can quickly become the reality when comparing the cost of coops.
While you may not be able to customize a prefabricated coop to the extent of those wonderful creations on Pinterest and circling on Instagram, a prefabricated coop is tried, tested and true.
When you choose a quality supplier, like Omlet, you can guarantee craftsmanship, materials, and longevity.
Chicken Coop: Wood or Plastic
Alright, I already know that there is someone out there balking (no pun intended) at the idea of a plastic coop.
Hear me out.
Easy to clean, nowhere for bacteria and microorganisms (even lice) to hide, durable … lightweight and colourful.
Not to mention, predator proof.
While wood is the standard go to for all things homestead, we are talking about the backyard chicken tender and what is the best fit for you.
A plastic chicken coop may well be more practical than a traditional wooden coop for a variety of reasons.
Many plastic coops are more lightweight than traditional wooden counterparts. This allows the coop to become more of a chicken tractor and less of a permanent fixture.
Chicken tractors are mobile chicken coops with inclosed runs that you literally move about your yard, giving your hens fresh food and foraging while fertilizing your yard and reducing the chicken “mess” associated with a permanent housing structure.
Prefabricated and plastic coops typically have a smaller footprint than wooden coops, they are designed with space efficiency at an all time high. This usually means a raised sleeping quarters and smaller roosting and nesting area to maximize hen housing while minimizing materials and space considerations.
Pressure wash and you’re done.
Plastic is non-porous meaning none of the chicken poop will stick and embed in the coop. A thorough spray down, some chicken safe soap, a little time to air dry and you have yourself a tidy coop in no time.
If you are considering a small flock and you aren’t looking to free-range your hens, my best advice would be to look into a mobile chicken tractor.
If you’re handy, make one, by all means.
If you’re tight on time or you’d rather not get into the logistics of DIY’ing a chicken tractor than a Prefabricated Chicken Coop may be the perfect option for you.
A chicken tractor allows your hens a free-range lifestyle while being well protected from predators and out of your neighbours yard.